Tuesday, October 22, 2013

'Y' : For Yoga, Bikram Yoga

BTW today with this blog I complete 200 blogs. A little slow, but I like it this way.

Today, I have chosen the topic "Yoga", and that too Bikram Yoga.

You might be wondering what is so special about Bikram Yoga, for Yoga is supposed to be the same, but read on for Bikram's Yoga is a little different.

Yogiraj Bikram Choudhury is the founder of the worldwide Yoga College of India™. Born in Calcutta in 1946, Bikram began Yoga at the age of four with India's most-renowned physical culturist at that time, Bishnu Ghosh, the younger brother of Paramahansa Yogananda (Author of the most popular book on Yoga, The Autobiography of a Yogi, and founder of the Self-Realization Fellowship in Los Angeles).

"It's never too late, you're never too old, you're never too sick to start from scratch again, to be born again."
Bikram Choudhury, Founder, Bikram Yoga
Bikram practiced Yoga at least four to six hours every day at Ghosh's College of Physical Education in Calcutta. At the age of thirteen, he won the National India Yoga Championship. He was undefeated for the following three years and retired as the undisputed All-India National Yoga Champion.
 At seventeen, an injury to his knee during a weight-lifting accident brought the prediction from leading European doctors that he would never walk again. Not accepting their pronouncement, he had himself carried back to Bishnu Ghosh's school, for he knew that if anyone could help to heal his knee, it was his teacher. Six months later, his knee had totally recovered. Ghosh was a celebrated physical culturist and the first to scientifically document Yoga's ability to cure chronic physical ailments and heal the body.

Bikram later on devised the 26 postures sequence, which work irrespective of age groups. These 26 postures series has a profound healing power on your body and mind. He founded Bikram’s Yoga College of India. Bikram has shown the light of healthy life to millions of people around the world.

Bikram is the most respected living Yoga Guru in the world. He has written books on Bikram Yoga. These books are wonderful work for the entire yoga world.

Bikram Yoga is not a special branch of yoga. Rather it is a set of twenty-six specific postures or asanas which need to be performed in a certain sequence in an environment that is pre-heated to 105-Fahrenheit degrees.

The whole exercise takes about 90 minutes and it has to be done every day – in return Bikram yoga claims it would keep you as healthy as it comes. The Bikram Yoga is special in the fact that it is copyrighted to Bikram Choudhury, a person who has been giving yoga classes since he was 20 years old.

Bikram wrote a book on the way he thought that yoga could be used for maximum benefit - "Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class" for which he obtained copyright in 1979. Ever since, he had demanded that anyone who taught his style of yoga should apply for a license from him – as Bikram Yoga had become copyrighted style of yoga. In 2002 a court in USA granted him this right and ever since Bikram Yoga has been a style or method of yoga that intellectually belonged to Bikram.

There are plenty of ways in which you could learn about Bikram Yoga postures. You could use the book, the video cassette or DVD and self tutor yourself with the help of the material you buy. However, the best is to learn it in a Bikram Yoga (licensed) center as you would be guided carefully into mastering the whole set of 26 postures.

Bikram claims that he had chosen these 26 postures in such a manner that the person who practices them would be able to exercise each and every muscle, tendon, organ and even bone and skin once he/ she completes the whole set. The postures should always be performed in the sequence given; it is important that the sequence be maintained as this too has been chosen to optimize the impact it has on the body as well as gradually increase the capacity of the body to perform.

The 1st to 12th pose are done standing and are known collectively as 'Standing Poses'. The other poses are done lying on the floor or by sitting up. All these postures have to be done twice before going to the next posture and the whole set should take about 90 minutes from end to end.

TEMPERATURE: 105f degree Heat / 40% Humidity. (Temperature can be adjusted for extremes in humidity; LOW humidity + HIGHER temperature; HIGH humidity + LOWER temperature). Bikram was the first to  introduce heat in his classes, others who have come up with so called "Hot Yoga" have tried to copy his method. So if one really wants to experience Hot Bikram Yoga, then one must go to one of licensed studios, spread all over the world. (except India, where I still have no idea where his licensed studio is, maybe there are but I could not find them).
You might ask why hot yoga why not any yoga?
There is a meaning behind this madness.
Yoga changes the construction of the body from the inside out, from bones to skin and from fingertips to toes. So before you change it, you have to heat it up to soften it, because a warm body is a flexible body. Then you can reshape the body any way you want.

Hatha Yoga flushes away the waste products, the toxins of all the glands and organs of your body. It provides a natural irrigation of the body through the circulatory system, with the help of the respiratory system. It brings nourishment to every cell of your body so that each one can perform its function and keep your body healthy. Bikram Yoga also employs heat to further that cleaning process: When you sweat, impurities are flushed out of the body through the skin. Practicing yoga not only increases our supplies of oxygen, but it also teaches us how to use that oxygen properly – we learn to control the breath through pranayama.

It is not unusual to feel nauseous or dizzy during your first class. Practicing yoga in a heated room reveals to us our present condition, and inspires us take much better care of ourselves. Usually the problem is that we do not drink enough water for daily living, let alone for exercising in a heated room. Nutritionists tell us that we need 2-3 liters of water a day to help the body function properly. 

In the heated yoga room, your body needs adequate fund of water to allow perspiration to release heat from the body as you practice. So we estimate you need somewhere around 5- 6 liters of water/ fluid in the form of juices and watery vegetables / fruits (sometime during the day) to allow for your 90 minutes in the room. Once you are drinking enough water your body will tolerate the heat better and you will actually enjoy the heat.  In Bangalore itself I manage to drink about 4 liters of water/ fluids in a day.

One can read the various testimonials by the students, who claim initially they felt terrible doing yoga in such heated studio, but soon they got used to it and started enjoying their classes and also started reaping the benefits of Hot Yoga of Bikram. Once they have liked his class they often become an addict to his class.
In India,  in many places we need not go looking for heat, we already have that temperature, all we have to do is to do it in shade that's all.

One can practice BY by using his Yoga book and the BY CD in our home too, either by creating the heated environment, or without the heat. Without the heat, we may not get the full benefits, but still it is better to do it for we would get most of the benefits. Also, since he has created a specific order in which the various asanas have to be performed everyday without any change, it makes it easier for us to do them effectively.  Though his his classes are called Beginner's Yoga class everywhere,  it is quite challenging, so in his class you would find both the beginner, as well as advanced students practicing his moves  together, each at his/her level, but with every body doing it  together.  Also, the routine is the same always, however, the body and mind are always different so the postures, and their order, don’t ever get boring. Bikram scientifically designed the series so that one posture opens a specific area of the body in preparation for the next posture. By practicing the same order every class one will be able to mark one's improvement. Remember, this is a lifetime practice that can always improve, deepen and advance!

I just love this \Bikram Yoga, for there are no new postures to be learnt, struggling, and finally not getting any of the postures perfectly, and it is true, that the asanas are pretty tough, but one can see improvements everyday, for it needs lots of concentration, patience and dedication, and when we are able to get most of it perfect, the pleasure is simply great. 
There is never anything like doing the asanas perfectly, for there is always room for some more  improvement, and that is the challenge that keeps one going from day to day, always looking forward to doing better and better.

My son who lives in Chicago, is BY fan. On my request, has sent me a  CD and a book which I follow everyday without fail, and I am just loving it.( though I am doing it  in the cool weather of Bangalore). However, I am pretty warmed up after my Aerobics class, and also  make it a point to drink lots of hot water with lemon and honey to keep me quite hot in this cool weather. I have been to many yoga classes, but after coming across BY, (years ago) I feel  it really makes sense to follow this very disciplined, scientifically programmed series of Yoga asanas.
This is how BY class looks all over the world, this one is in Chicago in River North area.

                                The practice is so intense, that one need not go to other classes like aerobics                                                                                                                                                                                                or weight training to build muscles, one can get everything here itself

                                      One is allowed to sit if one is feeling little tired or sick in the first few                                                          classes
                                     Not everyone can sit with  one knee folded and on the toes, but those who                                      are  able to, were also once struggling like the ones who cannot sit. 
                             You can see the Instructor standing on the platform watching every student, correcting, encouraging them.
Here you can see Bikram with all  the students from all over the world who have come to him to be trained as Instructors

The beauty of his class is that all BY trained Instructors would teach it in the same way, using the same words, ( that is how they are supposed to do, it is part of their training) so that no matter which part of the world you happen to be, you would not have  any problems following them. 
While you are moving very slowly: Stretching, holding, balancing, don't be shocked to feel your heart beating like you have been running for miles, for that is Bikram yoga.
People who live in naturally hot places in India should definitely, give it a try doing it in their homes following his CD.

I know this topic is too long, but I had to share this with all of you.
Tell me would you like to try this kind of Yoga if you had BY studio near your  place?

Monday, October 14, 2013

'X' for Xi'an, one of the oldest cities in China

I am sure many of us have a bucket list of things to be done, before we leave this world. Well, I too have a bucket list and one among them is to visit Xian in China. I have seen lots of pictures, read about it and also seen many travel programs on it on the TV. Here I share with you a few things about this beautiful place, gathered from the net.
I want to see the Terracotta Army, which is supposed to be one of the eight wonders of the world. 

The Terracotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum.
It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperor in his after life. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archaeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs.                  .
They had established beyond doubt that these artifacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC).
The State Council authorized to build a museum on site in 1975. When completed, people from far and near came to visit. The Museum of Qin Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses have become landmarks on all visitors' itinerary
These soldiers were made to accompany the first Qin Emperor in the after life. The soldiers are hollow, so their spirits can enter,  with each face being different, and they are all  supposed to be very realistic. There are foot soldiers, generals, horsemen and archers, all wearing the proper uniforms.

Emperor Qin ordered the construction of his tomb when he was only 13 years old, an order that involved hundreds of thousands of workers and thirty-six years to complete. It is also believed that Qin ordered that the tomb workers and supervisors involved in its design be buried alive to protect its secrets.
Reminds us of Shah Jahan, who too ordered that all the hands of the workers who were involved in the building of the Taj Mahal be cut. Some say it  was just man made rumors, while some claim it was true.

If one  wants to have an idea about QIn's life, then one can rent the movie,  "The Emperor and The Assassin" a 2 hour 41 minutes  movie which apparently gives an accurate history of Qin's efforts and struggles to unite China. It has sub-tiles in English.

Each soldier is life size and dressed according to his unit within the army. Many carried spears, arrows, swords, and other instruments. However, unlike the warriors and  horses, these were the actual articles and have disintegrated over the two thousand years the army has lain dormant covered by earth.

It is suspected Qin Shi Huang died due to the mercury pills he was ingesting. It is ironic that he thought these would allow him to be immortal.

The site of his tomb is 1.5 km from the Terracotta warriors. The small, forested hill (see photo above) has not been excavated. Supposedly, the tomb contains a wealth of wonders, including man-made streams to resemble the Yellow and Yangtze rivers flowing with mercury to mimic water and pearls inset in the ceiling to resemble the evening sky. Scientists have conducted tests of the area and found the mercury levels are 100 times higher than normal. Nobody knows for certain what is in the tomb. All of the workmen and the artists that built the tomb and warriors were killed. Experts also suggest 3000 concubines were buried alive to escort the Emperor into the after world. All of this will remain a mystery until technology exists which will allow excavation without damaging the artifacts.

It is always so shocking to imagine kings of olden days, spend their money in such bizarre projects. Probably they thought their senseless acts would a source of income for the future generations of their countries.

Sometimes, after reading in detail, how these things have come about, I feel, do I really have to go and see things, behind which lies so much torture and horror: what are your feelings?

Here is a video from Youtube for you and you can watch more of such videos, here telling you the story of this bizarre project of a crazy emperor, they are indeed very spooky and spine chilling:

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

'W' For: Wisdom

We all have a "Me Day", when we crib about various things that have gone wrong in our lives. We feel totally sorry for ourselves, we shed silent tears, or sometimes we become very hysterical, we don't know whom to blame for all our misfortunes, we want answers.
We go into a total 'complain' mode, we find ourselves complaining about things, about people, about anything and anybody.
Being too engrossed with oneself, we lose sight of the things we already have, we take things we already have for granted, and go chasing after things, we somehow feel that we must have at any cost.

We have all gone through it, we cannot deny it.
How to come out this terrible "Me Day"?
We can, if we spend our time productively:

 we can talk to people who are more knowledgeable than us, people who have had some life changing experiences in their lives, and gain wisdom by interacting them. They maybe our parents, our friends, our teachers, or wisdom may even come up on us while reading some books, watching some TV programs, some movie, from anywhere, anybody, or anything, the possibilities are endless, provided we keep our eyes, ears and our mind open.
However, if we choose to drown ourselves in our own negative thinking, we are doomed forever.
Do we want to find ourselves trapped in our own self made prison with no escape, or do we want to demolish all our self imagined obstacles, and walk out free and really feel from the bottom of our hearts, the beauty of this wonderful world we are in?
This poem set me free, and I am sure, it would help you also to be thankful for everything you already have, and set you free from the most dreaded "Me Day"

Oh Lord, Forgive Me When I Whine
By Red Foley

Today, upon a bus, I saw a girl with golden hair.
I envied her, she seemed so gay, and wished I was as fair.
When suddenly she rose to leave, I saw her hobbled down the aisle.
She had one leg and wore a crutch.
And as she passed she wore a smile.

Oh lord, forgive me when I whine.
I have two legs, the world is mine

I stopped to buy some candy. The lad who sold it had such charm.
I talked with him, he seemed so glad.
If I were late, it’d do no harm.
And as I left, he said to me, “I thank you, you’ve been so kind.
It’s nice to talk with folks like you. You see,” he said, “I’m blind.”

Oh lord, forgive me when I whine.
I have two eyes, the world is mine.

Later while walking down the street,
I saw a child with eyes of blue.
He stood and watched the others play.
He did not know what to do.
I stopped a moment and then I said,
“Why don’t you join the others, dear?”
He looked ahead without a word. And then I knew,
he couldn’t hear.

Oh lord, forgive me when I whine.
I have two ears, the world is mine.
With feet to take me where I’d go.
With eyes to see the sunset’s glow.
With ears to hear what I would know.

Oh lord, forgive me when I whine.
I’m blessed indeed, the world is mine……..

Clyde Julian Foley (June 17, 1910–September 19, 1968), better known as Red Foley, was an American singer, musician, and radio and TV personality who made a major contribution to the growth of country music after World War II.

For more than two decades, Foley was one of the biggest stars of the genre, selling more than 25 million records. His 1951 hit, "Peace in the Valley", was among the first million-selling gospel records. A Grand Ole Opry veteran until his death, Foley also hosted the first popular country music series on network television, Ozark Jubilee, from 1955–60.

He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, which called him "one of the most versatile and moving performers of all time" and "a giant influence during the formative years of contemporary Country music."

Biography from Wikipedia

Do share your experiences of your own "Me Day", and tell us, what set you free.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

'V' for Violet: My Favorite Color

Violet: My Favorite color.
The significance of Violet color:

Taken from: The LoveColors Website
Pamala Oslie | Psychic
Founder of LoveColors.com

How to Recognize a Violet Aura Color Personality

Most likely you are watching a Violet if he or she . . .

· is charismatic and often the center of attention.

· attracts attention whenever he or she enters a room.

· is very passionate — about art, performing, sex, causes, or saving the planet.

· loves music or is involved in music.

· is a performer, writer, or artist.

· is self-employed or is in a position of leadership.

· communicates in a way that inspires and motivates people.

· has a sense of urgency, feeling as if he or she is running out of the time necessary to accomplish major dreams and goals.

· has a strong desire to travel, especially globally.

· seems to have a million ideas or visions he or she wants to accomplish in this lifetime.

Love this violet Hibiscus: we don't see it so often in people's garden. Now I have it in my garden.
Purple flowers in our garden

· often feels overwhelmed and scattered. Violets tend to multitask.

· talks a lot. Violets need to communicate, and often words of wisdom pour forth as if they were teachers or philosophers.

· talks about what he or she "sees," "dreams," or "envisions."

· discusses global, political, humanitarian, or social concerns often.

· is involved or wants to be involved in humanitarian causes or charities.

· cares about animals, especially exotic or global animals.

· seems older or wiser than his or her years. Violets often appear physically older or more mature.

· tends to be a serious and deep thinker

· feels very deeply and has strong emotions.

· believes that accomplishing his or her dreams is ultimately more important than, or at least equally important as, relationships.

·  has little desire to be a stay-at-home parent. Violets sense that, in time, they will need to be out in the world making a difference.
· becomes easily bored at parties if there is meaningless chatter and gossip rather than intelligent discussions about world events, travel, philosophy, spirituality, politics, or other significant topics.

· has a powerful personality that often intimidates people.

· can be highly self-absorbed. (when out of power)

· is dramatic or has a lot of dramatic situations in his or her life.
This saree  in gold/ violet  double shade with deep violet border was a gift from my husband for our engagement. I look at it as coincidence, that he chose a saree in my favorite color.

· is easily bored in relationships, outgrows them quickly, or has had affairs.

· can become easily depressed or sullen, often feeling that he or she is not like other people.

Famous Violets: movers and shakers Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, John F. Kennedy, Robert Kennedy, Martin Luther King Jr., Maya Angelou, Mikhail Gorbachev, and Abraham Lincoln (all Violet/Yellows); singers and musicians the Beatles, Bono (of U2), Beyonce, Elvis Presley, Nora Jones, Cher, and Barbra Streisand (all Violet/Yellows); actors George Clooney, Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, Catherine Zeta Jones, Julia Roberts, and Sandra Bullock (all Violet/Yellows); and film directors Steven Spielberg and George Lucas (both Violet/Yellows).

Well, I also claim that colors like Aqua blue/ green and orange  are my favorite colors, and when I read about their significance, I can relate to them too, so which personality is true, one can never really say.
My mother's favorite color was violet too.

I feel I can relate to most of the points stated here, what about you, are you a 'Violet' person?